I recall a particular meal at a Denny’s restaurant, seated next to a couple in what some might euphemistically refer to as their “golden years.” Although this couple’s years sounded more like clattering tin. The elderly woman, with her barking, creaky voice, spent the entire mealtime berating her mostly-quiet companion and reciting a list of no-good people who had wronged her in various ways. As she spoke, her suspicion and hostility seemed to pollute the entire restaurant. I haven’t encountered such clear, forceful expression of a foul attitude before or since.
Without knowing the whole backstory – just as a person encountering this other person in the world – I couldn’t help but wonder “Why go on living like that?”
And then there’s Betty White. Kris Kristofferson. Dick Van Dyke. A smiling elderly couple I’ve seen riding matching his-and-hers recumbent bikes around town. They age, too. I’m sure they struggle with it, just like everyone else. But somehow they stay engaged. They keep doing interesting things, and even finding new things to be interested in when they can’t do the old things in the way they used to.
They don’t do it for our benefit. It’s no one’s job to be inspirational to anyone else. They do it for themselves, because life is simply better that way.
People like that are wonderful, aren’t they?
Beats the alternative response to life, anyway.
Here’s a song about how I would – and wouldn’t – like to age.